It’s time to bury hatchet and make a fresh start

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Followers of business at Gosport Borough Council in recent months could be forgiven for thinking that they had stepped into a soap opera.

The ongoing feud between independent borough councillor Dave Smith and his Lib Dem rival, Cllr Peter Chegwyn, has seen them appear in these pages many times in 2011.

Only the two protagonists know the precise ins and outs of a long-running argument between the pair.

But all have been able to follow a long-running saga of accusation, counter accusation, a caution for assault and numerous referrals to the standards watchdog.

The decision by that body not to investigate either councillor further is perhaps an indication that it is seen as a local problem that should be dealt with by the two men themselves.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, it is clear that this is very much a personal rather than a political clash.

What makes it our concern is that it is a problem which has spilled out into the council chamber and become a distraction from the running of borough business.

It is time to draw a line under this feud to enable these two members and their colleagues to concentrate on the task in hand.

The best outcome would be for councillors Smith and Chegwyn to shake hands and bury the hatchet – or at least agree to disagree.

With the new year approaching it would, perhaps, be an appropriate time for a fresh start.

But if the pair are unable to see their way past this row then the people of Gosport will be the ones to suffer.

This has been the case for too long already and it cannot be allowed to continue. The honourable way forward if there is no chance of a resolution would be for one or both men to decide whether they can still do their duty – and consider their positions.

And, of course, if they find themselves unable to do their jobs properly but unwilling to step down, then they can rest assured that the voters will make the decision for them.